William Clowes, an English printer, born at Chichester, Jan. 1, 1779, died Jan. 26, 1847. His father was a schoolmaster, who died leaving his family in straitened circumstances. The son, after receiving a fair education, was apprenticed to a printer in his native town. In 1802 he went to London, worked for a year as a compositor, and then commenced business on his own account in a small way. Having married the cousin of a stationer who had much government business, he soon obtained considerable official work, and in a few years found himself at the head of a large printing establishment. In 1823 he commenced the use of steam presses, and the process, being a new one, excited much attention. In a few years his establishment grew into the largest printing office then existing, comprising 24 steam presses and 28 hand presses, and employing 600 persons. Upon the establishment of the "Penny Magazine," and subsequently of the "Penny Cyclopaedia," he undertook the printing and publication of them, which he executed for 14 years with unvarying promptness, meanwhile extending his operations as a printer in other directions.
He was among the first printers to have fonts of type so large that an entire work could be set up without distributing the type, so that in case of need he could execute 1,000 pages a week, or keep a whole volume standing to await the author's final revisal, thus often having tons of type standing out of use. The establishment which he founded is still among the largest in England, printing much for the great publishers.